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Cathedral of st. Vitus Prague

Address

Pražský hrad, 118 00 Praha-Praha 1, Česká republika

The Gothic cathedral situated on the second courtyard of the Prague Castle is the largest church in Prague. It was founded by Charles, then the Moravian margrave, together with his father John of Luxemburg in 1344 to celebrate the promotion of the Prague bishopric to an archbishopric. In 1346 Charles became the Czech king Charles IV.

At Charles IV request the building of the cathedral was entrusted to two excellent architects of different schooling and talents. The first architect was a Frenchman, Matyáš of Arras, who built eight chapels during eight years. After his death in 1352 Petr Parléř took over and completed the ninth chapel of the Holy Cross. Matyáš of Arras was buried in the chapel of St. Anne.

In all likelihood work on the vestry was started during 1352-1356. The Chapel of St Wenceslas, from which the treasury containing the crown jewels is accessible, was finished by Petr Parléř in 1366.

The Golden Portal consisting of three arches and adorned by the mosaic of the Last Judgement from 1370-1371 by Venetian masters is an exceptional Gothic masterpiece.

In comparison with similar European buildings the St Vitus Cathedral can boast an exceptionally rich outside supporting system. The slim pillars surrounding the outer walls of the nave and the ring of chapels and supporting the weight of the cathedral vault are heavily decorated, as is the entire cathedral.

Twenty one portrait busts for the lower triforium of the cathedral were created during 1375-1385 in Petr Parléř’s workshop. These busts represent members of the royal family, Prague archbishops, the builders of the church and the directors of the construction.

The building of the cathedral was interrupted for many years by the Hussite wars. The second half of the building was therefore not completed until 1929.

Many Czech rulers are buried in the royal tomb, the most important being Charles IV and Rudolf II.